How Many Regional Trade Agreements Are There

Many governments are increasingly recognizing the need to ensure that trade and investment agreements reflect environmental concerns in order to contribute to cross-cutting environmental objectives and increase public acceptance. The report focuses on the practices available to ensure that investment provisions reaffirm the national area of environmental policy. Businesses in Member States benefit from increased incentives to trade in new markets as a result of the measures contained in the agreements. Regional trade agreements between states go back centuries. In the 19th century, they became an important instrument in Europe to forge larger political entities among small states. The classic example is the Deutsche Zollverein, founded in 1834, which brought together states previously linked in three small customs unions and paved the way for German unity. Between the First and Second World War, preferential trade agreements between European powers and their colonies were often blamed for the worsening decline in international trade during this period. The U.S. government was determined that the post-World War II international trade regime could learn from the problems of the interwar period and be based on non-discriminatory trade, enshrined in the nation`s most favoured principle of Article I of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Nevertheless, GATT Article XXIV allowed, particularly under pressure from the Europeans, preferential regional trade agreements if they met certain conditions, including that GATT members should not notify their membership of these agreements, that they remove barriers to “total essential trade” between regional partners, and that obligations and rules to which non-members are subject “must not , on the whole, to be superior or more restrictive” than those in force prior to the signing of the ATR. The Global Preferential Trade Agreements Database (GPTAD) provides information on trade agreements around the world. The database was developed jointly by the World Bank and the Center for International Business at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College and contains versions of all bilateral, free trade and customs agreements established since June 1, 2003. Today, ATRs are evolving in a way that goes beyond existing multilateral rules.

The areas that cover them – investment, capital and people, competition and state-owned enterprises, e-commerce, anti-corruption and intellectual property rights – are key policy issues that need to be addressed in today`s more interconnected markets. Mega-regional initiatives are of a completely new scale and allow preferential access to Member States` markets by attempting to conclude 21st century trade agreements with deep and comprehensive market integration.